Intuitive Tip of the Tongue Judgments Predict Subsequent Problem Solving One Day Later

Azurii K Collier, Mark Elliot Beeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Often when failing to solve problems, individuals report some idea of the solution, but cannot explicitly access the idea. We investigated whether such intuition would relate to improvements in solving and to the manner in which a problem was solved after a 24- hour delay. On Day 1, participants attempted to solve Compound Remote Associate problems, for which they viewed three problem words (crab, sauce, pine) and tried to generate one solution word (apple) that could form a compound word with each problem word (crabapple, applesauce, pineapple). For problems they failed to solve, participants reported whether they had an intuitive sense that they might have solution related processing in the back of their mind, similar to a Tip-of-the-Tongue (TOT) experience. After an overnight delay, on Day 2 participants attempted to solve unsolved Old problems from Day 1 (mixed among New problems). Participants solved more Old problems for which they reported a TOT on Day 1 than Old problems without a TOT, demonstrating a TOT specific incubation effect. Interestingly, participants reported solving a marginally higher proportion of these TOT problems, compared to No TOT problems, with insight. Results suggest that intuitive TOT judgments are indicative of subthreshold solution related activation that can facilitate eventual problem solving, especially with insight.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-168
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Problem Solving
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


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